Wednesday, January 7, 2015

On Dumbing Our Kids Down and Why Nintendo Sucks

About two weeks ago I spent forty bucks on Yoshi's New Island.  The classic (originally for the SNES but I had for the Gameboy Advance which came with a copy of Mario Bros with it) was one of my favorite games growing up, particularly that which I could play while not at home.  It took me eight hours to finish it.  That's it, and they were eight hours without any real investment in gameplay or the level of enjoyment I would expect from a classic Nintendo sidescroller.  It took me ten hours to beat Mega Man VI, and was a game that came out in the eighties (or early nineties - too lazy to Google search).  Yes, I know that how old a game is should have nothing to do with how long it takes to finish it; but we live in an age where we can place all the NES titles on a Micro SD card numerous times over, and must games are incredibly easy and often short.  Capitalism is of course the main culprit here, but also it is the cultural trends that are partly but not entirely set by the psychology of Capitalism and Consumerism.

Perhaps I'm an old fogey.  I remember watching the last episodes of South Park and largely thinking, yes, it is stupid that many people today are watching someone play a game rather than play it themselves.  But Trey and Matt with the relativist, "you can't judge aesthetic or personal preferences, the only thing that matters is the quantity of pleasure derived from the thing, not it's quality."  But I disagree.  Not only does the quality of our enjoyment affect the amount, but it has lasting effects on our psyche and lives.  Nothing exists in a vacuum.  People who always listen to stupid comedy will remain stupid people.  That's why it's great when dense people are exposed to more thought provoking people like George Carlin or Bill Hicks, rather than fat idiots who stand on stage and say they're fluffy.

By taking the easy path we shorten the path and ourselves.  For the path of life, the path(es) we take, become and are us just as an animal is determined largely by its habitat or a person by their environment.  Culture is as significant to development for human beings as diet, if not more-so.

I was going to complain in detail about Yoshi's New Island, it had me fairly irritated how lackluster and unchallenging it was, but I'll summarize by saying that I only ever died (for the most part) when I accidentally fell to my death or hit lava, and I remember larger more difficult environments in the first game.  Also they give kids wings when they've died several times (which I never took) as if to say:  yeah, we know you're to stupid to actually get good at anything in life, so just take this cheat code and be happy.  Well fuck that.  There's complaining about something just because it's different (which is being a fogey) and then there's criticizing contemporary aspects of society which are detrimental to our physical, intellectual and moral health and development. 

I wrote an essay about one of the great things about video games is that it can actually challenge the individual to become a virtuoso in something when most aspects of society ask merely for competency and don't stimulate growth or show the value of becoming good at something for its own sake.  Recently Nintendo has been doing seemingly everything in its power to rape that virtue.

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